The Green New Deal: “Too much, too soon”
When the Green New Deal was proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D-NY), it made waves across the nation, sparking a discussion about climate change and just how much America can do to fix the global crisis. On Thursday, university faculty and students joined the conversation.
In a small room in Brown Lab, faculty members Raymond Scattone, McKay Jenkins and Andrea Sarzynski explained to students what is — and is not — so great about the proposal.
The Green New Deal was a United States House of Representatives resolution that illustrated a national goal to tackle both climate change and inequality by 2030. It passed through the Democratic-controlled House but failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal,” the resolution stated, “To achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions … create millions of good, high-wage jobs … promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing history oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities … the goals … should be accomplished through a 10-year national mobilization.”
Sarzynski, an associate professor at the Biden School of Public Policy and Administration, says that these goals, while they may be admirable to some, are too lofty to be practical.
“This isn’t just the green piece, this is jobs, income, social justice, equity, this is the whole shebang,” Sarzynski said. “In 10 years, we want a new society. I don’t know about you, but think about the dysfunction we see in Congress right now, do you think we’re going to be able to get even some of these folks to take action any time soon? I’m very skeptical.”
Scattone, a research assistant professor in the Energy and Environmental Policy Program, agrees that the plan is unrealistic, saying it is “too much, too soon.” Scattone said that a lack of clear legislation within the bill is a confounding feature. While the goals are there, how they will be reached is not explained.
Scattone compared the Green New Deal to New York City’s plan of the same name, which has similar goals to the federal proposal but has outlined regulations and legislation that will be used to accomplish them.
“For the New York City plan, they have actual legislation in place that is very specific on things that they intend to do, whereas on the federal level this is just a non-binding resolution,” Scattone said, “It’s kind of like a feel-good of what we want to do sort of thing.”
Legislation laid out in New York City’s version of the Green New Deal includes banning the construction of inefficient glass-walled buildings, mandating city-wide organic waste removal and requiring buildings of 25,000 square feet or more to upgrade their buildings to be more energy efficient. Buildings that do not comply will face significant fines.
The three faculty members agreed that while the resolution is unlikely to pass in the House of Representatives — it was already blocked in the Senate— the conversation and awareness the Green New Deal has brought to climate change is a positive outcome. Jenkins, a journalist and English professor, told students that even just their presence in the room was a step in the right direction.
“The fact that you’re all in this room talking about this, we wouldn’t been in this room talking about this if this thing hadn’t been introduced. “ Jenkins said. “In a way, the greatest thing to come out of this is the conversation.”
Sarzynski added that by creating a document that openly states these goals, the country is moving toward taking action.
“There are goals now, not just us being frustrated,” Sarzynski said. “We have something to talk about, but this in and of itself doesn’t do anything.”